Food and Life, Pleasure and Worry, Among American College Students: Gender Differences and Regional Similarities

Journal of Personality and Social Psychology                                                                    Copyright 2003 by the American Psychological Association, Inc.
2003, Vol. 85, No. 1, 132–141                                                                                         0022-3514/03/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/0022-3514.85.1.132

   Food and Life, Pleasure and Worry, Among American College Students:
                Gender Differences and Regional Similarities
                                                  Paul Rozin, Rebecca Bauer, and Dana Catanese
                                                                    University of Pennsylvania

                                Questionnaires on food attitudes and behavior were completed by 2,200 American undergraduates from 6
                                regionally dispersed college campuses. Results indicate that a substantial minority of women and a much
                                smaller minority of men have major concerns about eating and food with respect to both weight and
                                health. Overall, 14% of women reported being embarrassed to buy a chocolate bar in the store. A 6-factor
                                structure emerged: weight concern, diet and health orientation, beliefs about the diet– health link, food
                                negativity/importance of food as a source of pleasure in life, eating disordered behaviors, and natural/
                                vegetarian food preferences. There were surprisingly few regional differences, virtually none if race and
                                social class were taken into account. Gender was the strongest predictor of responses.

   There is little doubt that in contemporary American society,                         habits. However, the majority of individuals do not succeed, in the
especially among women, food and eating lead to ambivalent                              long run, in reducing weight substantially (Wadden & Foster,
feelings. The pleasure and necessity of eating are opposed by                           2000). Therefore, concerns about diet with respect to health and
concerns about appearance, the health effects of overweight, and                        weight may be nonproductive and produce worry, anxiety, and
the risks of consuming a nonoptimal diet. Whatever one’s views                          failure, with consequences in terms of mood and self-esteem
about the importance of a healthy diet, it is clear that many                           (Polivy & Herman, 2002). A number of authors have noted with
Americans spend a lot of time worrying about calories and fat and                       alarm that obesity is increasing in the United States at the same
that this concern, in itself, detracts from the quality of life (Rozin,                 time that more and more attention seems to be devoted to weight-
Fischler, Imada, Sarubin, & Wrzesniewski, 1999). For a small                            loss programs (Wadden, Brownell, & Foster, 2002).
minority of the population, especially women, these concerns                               This article addresses the food and eating concerns of Ameri-
come to dominate life in the form of anorexia nervosa or in the                         cans in a broader context than is typically done in the literature. It
various forms of bulimia. The focus of most past research in this                       is modeled after a prior study of food and life in four cultures
area has been on the eating disorders rather than what Rodin,                           (United States, France, Flemish Belgium, and Japan; Rozin et al.,
Silberstein, and Striegel-Moore (1985) called the “normative dis-                       1999). This broader context has been expressed outside of psy-
content” with one’s body that is common among American women                            chology, as in the literatures in sociology (e.g., Fischler, 1990) and
(p. 267). The focus of most past research has also been on calories,                    in more humanistic and historical approaches (e.g., Kass, 1994;
that is, amount consumed, and accompanying weight problems,                             Stearns, 1997; for a general discussion of American food ambiv-
leaving aside important worries about quality and composition of                        alence, see Rozin, 1998).
diet. The common American avoidance of high-fat foods seems to                             We are particularly motivated to explore what we may term an
be more than just an avoidance of calories; fat seems to have                           ambivalence about food and eating in many Americans because
assumed, even at low levels, the role of a toxin. Thus, almost a                        this attitude seems to reduce the quality of life and to be unpro-
third of a sample of Americans seek a totally fat-free (and hence,                      ductive. The French are at least as healthy as Americans and have
actually fatal) diet (Rozin, Ashmore, & Markwith, 1996).                                a much lower incidence of heart disease (Renaud & de Lorgeril,
   The normative discontent about both weight and food choice is                        1989), yet consume a diet somewhat higher in fat (Drewnowski et
particularly problematic because in both cases, it seems to lay-                        al., 1996) and have a much more relaxed attitude to eating (Rozin
people that there should be little difficulty in changing eating                        et al., 1999). The French seem to focus on the experience of eating,
                                                                                        whereas Americans focus more on the consequences of eating
                                                                                        (Rozin et al., 1999). The French probably eat somewhat less than
   Paul Rozin, Rebecca Bauer, and Dana Catanese, Department of Psy-                     Americans but get more food experience because they pay more
chology, University of Pennsylvania.                                                    attention to the food they are eating (Rozin, Kabnick, Pete,
   This research was supported, in part, by funds from the Edmund J. and                Fischler, & Shields, in press).
Louise W. Kahn Chair for Faculty Excellence at the University of Penn-                     Unlike the European nations, the United States has minimal
sylvania. We thank Leann Birch, Richard Davidson, Alan Fridlund, and                    language barriers and is influenced as a whole by substantially the
Carol Nemeroff for helping to provide access to the students at the various
                                                                                        same films, magazines, television, papers and legislation. These
universities. The present article was written while Paul Rozin was a
                                                                                        features may reduce regionalization. On the other hand, the United
Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation.
   Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Paul                   States spans a wide range of climates. Climate influences clothing,
Rozin, Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, 3815                       with the clothing in warmer climes more likely to reveal body
Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-6196. E-mail: rozin@                    shape. Climate also influences degree of exercise and the avail-                                                                         ability of foods such as fruits. There are also substantial American

FOOD AND LIFE, PLEASURE AND WORRY                                                                   133

regional differences in cultural and ethnic backgrounds. People                 42% middle class, and 48% upper middle or upper class. The predominant
who derive from ancestors in Europe, Asia, Mexico or further                    race was Caucasian (72%), and the predominant religions were Catholic
south in the Americas, and Africa are distributed very unequally                (38%) and Protestant (37%). (See Table 1 for full sample distribution by
around the country. Any discovered regional differences would                   race and religion.)
                                                                                   The one-page, two-sided anonymous questionnaires received a very high
have to be analyzed to determine whether the difference was based
                                                                                return rate because student questionnaires were filled out in introductory
on region or ethnic–racial makeup.
                                                                                psychology classes or during required periods for filling out questionnaires
   The literature in psychology on eating disorders and food and                associated with some introductory psychology courses. Feedback on results
eating in general has focused on undergraduate students. Although               was made available to the instructors of the classes that contributed results,
this subsample of Americans is atypical in many ways, particularly              when requested, within 1 month of data collection.
with respect to food choice, it has the virtue of being a focal group              The questionnaire consisted of a range of demographic items plus 69
for the appearance of eating disorders. Along with obesity, eating              food-relevant items. These were primarily from the food-life questionnaire
disorders are responsible for motivating almost all of the research             in Rozin et al. (1999). Some of the questions were modified or improved
on food in psychology. The research on undergraduates has been                  on the basis of problems encountered in prior analyses. A small number of
surprisingly inattentive to variables other than gender that might              items were open ended, but these are not included in this analysis. The
                                                                                questions used in the present analysis, except for self-reported weight and
differentiate undergraduates. Location of a study (e.g., region of
                                                                                height, are true–false, frequency measures (e.g., never, rarely, sometimes,
the United States); region of origin of the sample; and religion,
                                                                                often, almost always), or choices between two specific alternatives. A few
religiosity, and social class of respondents are rarely mentioned,              items represent what we consider “default” ways of thinking about food-
and race– ethnic origin receives relatively little attention. In sum-           related matters (Rozin et al., 1999). These items, like free associations,
marizing the literature, especially in experimental studies, results            probe the most salient way that one thinks about relevant issues. For
tend to be considered as equivalent if derived from any American                example, Rozin et al. (1999) reported that although Americans tend to
(or Canadian) undergraduate samples.                                            think of food in terms of its health or nutritional properties, the French tend
   In this study, we attempted to address and fill some of the gaps             to think in terms of the experience of eating foods. One default item is
in the literature that we have identified above:                                “Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left”;
   1. We explored, via questionnaire, a wide range of attitudes and             the word is heavy cream, and the choices are whipped and unhealthy. On
                                                                                the actual questionnaire, items are organized by format of question (true–
behaviors toward food, including issues such as default thinking about
                                                                                false, frequency, default, etc.).
food, beliefs about diet and health, and concerns about amount and
quality of food eaten. We built upon and modified another attempt to
survey the role of food in life (Rozin et al., 1999).                                                             Results
   2. For the first time, we addressed the justification for pooling            Factor Analysis: The Structure of Food Attitudes and
results across American regions: We compared undergraduate
introductory psychology samples from six universities spread
across the United States.                                                          All variables were rescaled to vary from 0 to 1. Thus, an item on
   3. We analyzed results in terms of gender, race, religion, and               a 5-point scale was converted to scores of 0, .25, .50, .75, and 1.00.
self-reported social class as well as region of the United States.                 Examination of the factor analysis (PCA, Varimax rotation,
   Our study on regional differences was prompted by a pilot study              SYSTAT9 [SPSS, 1999]) of 58 items suggested that a six-factor
by Bauer and Catanese (1996), which suggested much greater                      solution might be optimal, given the scree plot, and so a six-factor
body concerns and dieting and diet– health concerns among un-                   solution was forced (accounting for 35% of the variance). Assign-
dergraduate women at the University of Pennsylvania who were                    ment of items to factors was extremely clear; only four of the 58
from the West coast as opposed to those from the East coast.                    items did not load at least .30 on any factor, and only two items
                                                                                loaded at .40 or more on more than one factor. Table 2 organizes
                                 Method                                         the items by factor (and the residual four items) and indicates the
                                                                                name of the factor and the items that loaded at least .40 on that
   Participants were 2,200 college students. We eliminated the data from 38     factor (with the value dropped to greater than .30 if this was the
participants because these had more than 6 missing values across the
                                                                                highest loading that this item had on any factor).
relevant 58 questionnaire items that were subject to analysis. For purposes
of subsequent analysis, the missing values of the remaining participants
                                                                                   Factor scores were created by combining items in accordance
were assigned the modal value for the whole sample of the item in               with their loading on each factor (Table 2). Only the items listed
question. Of the remaining 2,162 participants, 59% were women. Partici-         in Table 2 were used to compose each factor. Loadings less than
pants were distributed across six geographically dispersed large universi-      .30 were not included in the factor score, nor were loadings less
ties: Universities of Pennsylvania, Texas at Houston, Wisconsin, and            than .40 unless they were the highest loading on any factor. Scores
California at Santa Barbara; Pennsylvania State University; and Arizona         on individual items were reversed, as appropriate, so that high
State University. Five of the six schools are state universities (the Univer-   scores on each item “pointed” in the direction of concern about
sity of Pennsylvania, in spite of its name, being the exception). State         food. The factors extracted from this database are similar to, but
universities have the advantages that they draw students disproportionately     not identical to, those derived from a similar questionnaire used on
from the region that they are in and that because of low tuition, there are
                                                                                college students and adults from four countries (Rozin et al.,
smaller barriers to entry by students from lower socioeconomic back-
grounds. The six universities are widely dispersed in the United States: two
from the Northeast and one each from the South, Midwest, Southwest, and            We now consider the individual factors, beginning in each case
California.                                                                     with a brief interpretation of the meaning of the factor followed by
   The mean age of the participants was 19.3 years. Self-reported socio-        a discussion of gender, school, race, religion, and social class
economic class (5-point scale) yielded 10% lower or lower middle class,         effects. For each of the factors, mean values for factor scores
134                                       ROZIN, BAUER, AND CATANESE

      Table 1
      Participant Demographics

                  Demographic                  ASU     PSU        UTEX    UCSB    UPENN      UWIS      Total

      No.                                      206     285        297     372     276        726     2,162
      Age (M)a                                  19.9    20.4       19.3    18.8    19.2       18.9      19.3
        n                                       94      54        112     129     117        371      877
        %                                       46      19         38      35      42         51       41

                                                  Socioeconomic class

      Lower/lower middle
        n                                       19      29         56      35      25         47      211
        %                                        9      11         19      10       9          7       10
        n                                      108     132        147     150      75        276      888
        %                                       53      48         50      41      28         38       42
      Upper middle/upper
        n                                       77     115         92     180     172        394     1,030
        %                                       38      42         31      49      63         55        48


        n                                       19      15          9      57      45         77      222
        %                                        9       5          3      16      16         11       11
        n                                        5       2         28      10        6         6        57
        %                                        3       1         10       3        2         1         3
        n                                       76     133        112     116      71        295      803
        %                                       39      48         38      33      26         42       38
        n                                        0       0         12       0      16          3        31
        %                                        0       0          4       0       6          1         1
        n                                        6      18          4      29      69         52      176
        %                                        3       6          1       8      25          7        8
        n                                        2       2         18       3      10          9        44
        %                                        1       1          6       1       4          1         2
        n                                       89     109        111     139      56        264      768
        %                                       45      39         38      39      21         37       37


      African American
        n                                        8      14         39       9        8         7        85
        %                                        4       5         13       2        3         1         4
      East/Southeast Asian, Pacific Islander
        n                                       14       4         71      55      43         30      217
        %                                        7       1         24      15      16          4       10
      Hispanic, Native American
        n                                       22       7         64      44      17         12      166
        %                                       11       2         22      12       6          2        8
      South Asian, Indian
        n                                        2       3         29       2      25          8        69
        %                                        1       1         10       1       9          1         3
        n                                      152     251         82     231     176        646     1,538
        %                                       75      89         28      64      64         90        72
        n                                        4       3          9      19        5        15        55
        %                                        2       1          3       5        2         2         3

      Note. ASU ⫽ Arizona State University; PSU ⫽ Pennsylvania State University; UTEX ⫽ University of Texas;
      UCSB ⫽ University of California, Santa Barbara; UPENN ⫽ University of Pennsylvania; UWIS ⫽ University
      of Wisconsin.
        Mean of male and female mean ages, for each campus. b Includes all sects of Christianity other than
FOOD AND LIFE, PLEASURE AND WORRY                                                       135

by school and gender are shown in Table 3, and results of the           hand, 48% of women and 74% of men said they consumed fast
analyses of variance (ANOVAs) by gender, school–region, race            food on at least a weekly basis.
(Black, East/Southeast Asian, Hispanic, American Indian, South             The major gender effects translate into a difference between a
Asian, White, and other), and religion (atheist/agnostic, Buddhist,     mean factor score of .22 for women and ⫺.33 for men, a very
Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Protestant) and correlations       substantial .56 z-unit difference, but notably less than the differ-
with self-reported social class are shown in Table 4. In discus-        ence for Factor 1. The range of factor scores across schools and
sion of results, we adopt the .01 level as a criterion for              gender is substantial (0.92 z units), with University of Texas men
significance.                                                           lowest (⫺.44) and University of Wisconsin women highest (.48).
   Factor 1: Weight concern. The items with highest loadings on            This variable shows the broadest range of significant effects of
this factor deal with concerns regarding weight and appearance          variables other than gender. By far the most significant school
and specific weight-concern-related behaviors (e.g., dieting; see       effect, F(5, 2155) ⫽ 15.52, p ⬍ .001, occurs for this variable. It is
Table 2). This factor accounted for more variance than any other.       accounted for, principally, by the anomalous results from the
   Overall, there is a great deal of concern about weight in Amer-
                                                                        University of Texas women. Their factor score on this variable
ican undergraduates: 20% of the sample of over 2,000 was cur-
                                                                        (⫺.41) is among the most negative of the male scores and different
rently on a diet, a full 28% would willingly exchange eating for an
                                                                        in sign from all of the other female scores (Table 3). Post hoc tests
inexpensive nutrient pill, 43% were concerned about their weight
                                                                        indicate that the female University of Texas Factor 2 score differs
often or almost always, and 47% thought their thighs were too fat.
                                                                        significantly from that of the women at each other school by at
   Of all factors, weight concern shows the largest difference in
factor scores across gender, with a mean female factor score of .43     least p ⬍ .01. A consequence of this anomaly is that in a two-way
compared with a male score of ⫺.63. Women were more con-                ANOVA, there is a substantial and significant Gender ⫻ School
cerned with appearance and diet in each of the six schools: 58% of      interaction term, F(1, 2149) ⫽ 6.44, p ⬍ .001. We devote a
men responded “never” to “How often do you diet?” in compari-           subsequent section of this article to the explanation of this most
son with 33% of women; 72% of women reported that their “thighs         anomalous result.
were too fat” in comparison with 11% of men; 34% of women                  Significant effects of race, F(6, 2123) ⫽ 17.96, p ⬍ .001, and
were happy with their present weight as opposed to 58% of men;          religion, F(6, 2096) ⫽ 5.45, p ⬍ .001, both derive principally from
34% of women claimed a willingness to give up eating if it could        the fact that Hindus and South Asians showed by far the lowest
be replaced by an inexpensive nutrient pill as opposed to 21% of        score on diet– health concern. The significant link to social class
men.                                                                    (r ⫽ .12) confirms the belief that diet– health concerns become
   In one-way ANOVAs, there was a highly significant effect of          greater as social class increases.
gender, F(1, 2160) ⫽ 797.75, p ⬍ .001; the only other significant          A two-way ANCOVA for Gender ⫻ School, with race, religion,
effect was a much more modest effect of religion, F(6,                  and class as covariates, produces a still massive, F(1, 2040) ⫽
2096) ⫽ 4.77, p ⬍ .001 (Table 4). The principal outlier group on        127.05, p ⬍ .001, effect of gender and a still significant, F(1,
religion was Hindus, who had a particularly low score. Factor           2040) ⫽ 6.04, p ⬍ .001, effect of school as well as a significant
scores by gender and school varied considerably (range of z             interaction of school and gender, F(1, 2040) ⫽ 5.05, p ⬍ .001.
scores ⫽ 1.34), anchored by ⫺.73 for Pennsylvania State Univer-         Hence, on this variable, there seem to be some substantial regional
sity men and .61 for University of Wisconsin women.                     differences.
   A two-way school and gender analysis of covariance                      Factor 3: Belief in a diet– health linkage. These four items ask
(ANCOVA), with race, social class, and religion as covariates,          for beliefs about the diet– health link in general and for obesity,
yields a still massive gender effect, F(1, 2140) ⫽ 580.24, p ⬍ .001,    cancer, and heart disease. The four items form a distinctive factor,
and much more modest significant effects of school, F(1,                with the lowest factor loading of the four items at .65 (and the next
2140) ⫽ 3.08, p ⬍ .01, and a Gender ⫻ School interaction, F(1,          highest item loading only .21). Overall, the American undergrad-
2140) ⫽ 3.17, p ⬍ .01.
                                                                        uates seemed convinced that diet has a substantial effect on health.
   Factor 2: Diet– health orientation. This factor focuses on con-
                                                                        For example, 61% of all participants believed diet has a “strong
cerns about diet and health: modification of food choice to reduce
                                                                        effect” (the highest of four choices) on heart disease.
fat and salt, and emphasis in choice and thought on nutrition and
                                                                           There is a substantial gender effect for this variable, F(1,
health as opposed to taste or culinary properties. In the food choice
                                                                        2160) ⫽ 53.63, p ⬍ .001. The gender effect occurs because
literature, taste has emerged as the dominant factor in food choice,
but 35% of the sample said nutrition was more important in their        women tend to believe in a stronger diet– health link (mean factor
food choice than taste, 24% of the sample ate foods from which fat      score for women is .13 compared with ⫺.19 for men), but the
had been removed at least a few times a week, and 60% associated        major finding on this factor is that the great majority of our
heavy cream more with unhealthy than whipped. More generally,           participants believed in a strong diet– health link. The range of
many in the sample viewed food more in nutritional terms than in        scores on this variable, across school and gender (Table 3) is
taste–pleasure terms.                                                   modest, covering .52 z units, from ⫺.24 for University of Texas
   The major effect for this variable is gender, F(1, 2160) ⫽           men to .28 for Pennsylvania State University women.
171.91, p ⬍ .001, with women higher on diet– health concern. For           There are modest, but significant effects of race and school
example, whereas 39% of women ate low-fat (fat-removed) foods           (Table 4). A Gender ⫻ School two-factor ANCOVA, with race,
at least daily, only 15% of men did. Whereas 68% of women               religion, and class as covariates, reveals a remaining substantial
associated heavy cream with unhealthy as opposed to the culinary        effect of gender, F(1, 2040) ⫽ 32.42, p ⬍ .001, and no other
choice, whipped, only 49% of men made this choice. On the other         significant effects.
136                                                     ROZIN, BAUER, AND CATANESE

Table 2
Questionnaire Items, Conceptually Arranged, in Terms of the Scores Derived From the Six-Factor Analysis

  Item name        loadingb                                                              Item                              Female          Male

                                                                Factor 1: Weight concern
CONCWGT              .80R      I am concerned about being overweight.c                                                      .65            .33
GUILT                .76R      I feel guilty when I overeat.c                                                               .62            .26
DIET                 .67R      I am currently on a diet.c                                                                   .41            .18
THIGH                .66       My thighs are too fat.                                                                       .72            .11
HOLDBACK             .64R      I consciously hold back at meal time, so as not to gain weight.c                             .38            .19
SELFWGT              .64       Relative to your same sex peers, how do you perceive yourself?d                              .44            .36
BUTT                 .61       My butt is too fat.                                                                          .44            .10
HAPWGT               .60R      Are you happy with your present weight?                                                      .65            .42
ARMS                 .58       My arms are too fat.                                                                         .29            .03
CURRDIET             .51       I am currently on a diet to lose weight.                                                     .27            .10
APPEAR               .49       I am concerned about what I eat and how it will affect my appearance.                        .78            .51
BELLY                .48       My belly is too fat.                                                                         .65            .64
OBSWGT               .48       I am obsessively preoccupied with my weight.e                                                .29            .10
FACE                 .47       My face is too fat.                                                                          .18            .08
CHOCCAKE             .46R      Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .32            .12
                               chocolate cake       guilt    celebration
PILL                 .41       If I could eliminate eating by satisfying nutritional needs, safely, cheaply, and without    .34            .21
                                  hunger, with a pill, I would.
ICECREAM             .37       Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .32            .14
                               ice cream       delicious    fattening
EXERFUWO             .32       Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .67            .49
                               exercise      fun      work

                                                          Factor 2: Diet–health orientation
LOWFAT               .65R      Frequency with which you eat low-fat food in which some of the fat has been removed          .72            .50
                                  or substituted for high fat food.f
HEALTHEAT            .64       I am a healthy eater.                                                                        .64            .54
FASTFOOD             .59R      Frequency with which you eat fast food.f                                                     .64            .47
NUTTASTE             .58R      Which is more important in food choice: nutrition or taste?                                  .40            .24
CONTCAL              .50       Do you control your caloric intake?                                                          .38            .21
BREAD                .49R      Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .75            .64
                               bread      carbohydrate       butter
EXERCISE             .48R      Frequency with which you exercise?f                                                          .64            .68
LONGTERM             .48R      I rarely think about the long term effects of my diet on health.                             .69            .53
EDUCNUTR             .43       I am educated about nutrition.                                                               .79            .75
HVCREAM              .41       Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .68            .49
                               heavy cream        whipped       unhealthy
WALKTV               .41R      Do you prefer to walk or watch TV?                                                           .56            .36
FOODHEPLg            .41R      Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .48            .37
                               food      health      pleasure
LOWSALT              .40R      Frequency with which you eat reduced salt [food from which salt is removed] products?f       .35            .27
MILK                 .38       Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .76            .63
                               milk      cookies      calcium
BROCCOLI             .36       Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .84            .75
                               broccoli      butter     vitamins
SACCHAR              .34R      Use no, or very-low calorie sweeteners.f                                                     .30            .15
FREGG                .33       Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                   .57            .32
                               fried egg      breakfast     cholesterol
VITAMIN              .32R      Take vitamins.f                                                                              .43            .40

                                                                Factor 3: Diet–health link
HEART                .80       How   much   of   an   effect   does   diet   have   on   heart disease?h                    .83            .80
GOODHEALTH           .70       How   much   of   an   effect   does   diet   have   on   good health?h                      .88            .84
OBESITY              .68       How   much   of   an   effect   does   diet   have   on   obesity?h                          .87            .80
CANCER               .64       How   much   of   an   effect   does   diet   have   on   cancer?h                           .60            .48

                                                                Factor 4: Food negativity
ENJOYED              .67R      Enjoying food is one of the most important pleasures in my life.                             .42            .37
FONDMEM              .57R      I have fond memories of family food occasions.                                               .35            .38
THINKPOS             .53R      I think about food in a positive anticipatory way.                                           .31            .18
FOOD AND LIFE, PLEASURE AND WORRY                                                                      137

Table 2 (continued )

   Item name            loadingb                                                    Item                                                    Female           Male

                                                            Factor 4: Food negativity (continued)
MONEY                     .48          Money spent on food is well spent.                                                                     .38            .20
FOODHEPL                  .45Rg        Circle the world that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                            .48            .37
                                       food      health    pleasure
HOTEL                     .42          For the same price, would you rather vacation at an average hotel with the best food or                .84            .73
                                         a luxurious hotel with average food?

                                                         Factor 5: Eating-disordered characteristics
OBSEXER                   .58          I am obsessively preoccupied with my exercise habits.                                                  .19            .21
OBSWGT                    .45e         I am obsessively preoccupied with my weight.                                                           .29            .10
PURGE                     .44R         How often have you purged (vomited) intentionally after eating for the purpose of                      .06            .02
                                          weight reduction?i
BINGE                     .40          Frequency with which you binge?f                                                                       .12            .16
EMBCHOC                   .38          I am embarrassed to buy a chocolate bar in the store.                                                  .14            .04

                                                                 Factor 6: Natural/vegetarian
DATESALAD                 .59          I would rather date someone who eats lots of fruits and veggies rather than lots of                    .17            .22
NATTASTE                  .58          I think natural/organic foods are better tasting than commercially grown/processed foods.              .35            .33
NATHEALTH                 .54          I think natural/organic foods are healthier than commercially grown/processed foods.                   .77            .74
VEGETAR                   .40R         Are you a vegetarian?j                                                                                 .14            .04
CNDYNICE                  .37          People who eat lots of candy aren’t as nice as people who eat lots of fruits and                       .03            .06

                                                             Items that load ⬍ .30 on any factor
FRNDHLTH                               I am concerned with the health of a friend/family member who eats poorly.                              .74            .66
SUGAR                    R             Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                             .40            .48
                                       sugar      cavities    pleasure
HOLIDAY                  R             Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                             .41            .31
                                       holiday dinner      overeat     happiness
PASTA                    R             Circle the word that you most readily associate with the word at the left:                             .32            .24
                                       pasta     bread      sauce

Note. Response alternatives to items are true–false or yes–no unless otherwise indicated or footnoted. All items loading at least .40 on any factor are listed
under that factor, in order of decreasing loading, with two items listed twice. Items loading greater than .30 are also included if there was no loading greater
than or equal to .40 on any factor, and they represent the highest loading of the item on any factor. The items listed under each factor are exactly those
that contributed to the factor score, weighted by their loadings. 1.00 ⫽ the most food-concerned response; 0 ⫽ the most food-positive response. R ⫽ reverse
scored. Items are adapted from Rozin et al. (1999).
  Percentage of females and males giving the more food-concerned response (cut-off set at some intermediate value for items with more than two response
alternatives). b Mean score on a 0 –1 scale, with 1 ⫽ the most health/worry-oriented alternative. Exercise scored as if it was food. c 1 ⫽ almost always,
2 ⫽ often, 3 ⫽ sometimes, 4 ⫽ rarely, 5 ⫽ never. d 1 ⫽ underweight to 5 ⫽ overweight. e Listed under both Factor 1 (WGTCONCERN) and Factor 5
(EATDIS). f 1 ⫽ every day, 2 ⫽ a few times a week, 3 ⫽ once a week, 4 ⫽ once or twice a month, 5 ⫽ rarely/never. g Listed under both Factor 2
(HEALTHCONCERN) and Factor 4 (FOODNEGATIVE). h 1 ⫽ no effect, 2 ⫽ little effect, 3 ⫽ some effect, 4 ⫽ strong effect. i Never, Once/Twice,
Occasionally, Often, Almost daily. j Vegan, No meat or fish, Partial, Not at all.

   Factor 4: Food negativity (food importance; positive–negative).                showed a 58% female and 63% male endorsement, whereas 38%
This distinct factor is principally composed of seven items and                   of women as opposed to 20% of men disagreed that “money spent
has to do with the degree to which feelings about food are                        on food is well spent.” The highest (most food-negative) factor
negative (or inversely, the positivity and importance of food in                  score was from Arizona State University women (.33), and the
life). Overall, 60% of respondents claimed that enjoying food                     lowest was from University of Pennsylvania men (⫺.32), yielding
was one of the greatest pleasures in their lives, but only 21%                    a range of .65 z units.
chose a hotel with gourmet food and average accommodations                           There are modest effects of other demographic variables, the
over a hotel, at the same price, with average food and luxurious                  most substantial being race, F(6, 2123) ⫽ 3.98, p ⬍ .001; the most
accommodations, and 28% would prefer a nutrient pill to eat-                      striking racial difference is the highest positive reaction to food
ing. A total of 44% associated food more with health than with                    among East and Southeast Asians. The gender effect remains
pleasure.                                                                         substantial, F(1, 2040) ⫽ 42.89, p ⬍ .001, in the two-way Gen-
   This factor shows the expected major effect of gender, by far the              der ⫻ School ANCOVA, with the other demographic variables as
most significant variable, F(1, 2160) ⫽ 51.24, p ⬍ .001. The                      covariates. There is no significant effect of school or the interac-
highest loaded item, ENJOYED (cited in the previous paragraph)                    tion in this ANCOVA.
138                                                   ROZIN, BAUER, AND CATANESE

                  Table 3
                  Factor Summary of Data on Selected Variables by School and Gender

                            Item                 ASU          PSU         UTEX             UCSB            UPENN            UWIS

                    M                            94           54           112             129              117              371
                    F                           112          231           185             243              159              355
                    1. Weight concern
                       M                       ⫺64          ⫺73           ⫺54              ⫺71             ⫺63              ⫺61
                       F                        40           36            19               40              46               61
                    2. Health orientation
                       M                       ⫺39          ⫺32           ⫺44              ⫺40             ⫺20              ⫺30
                       F                        12           30           ⫺41a              19              41               48
                    3. Diet–health beliefs
                       M                       ⫺24             4          ⫺22              ⫺20             ⫺23              ⫺18
                       F                         2            28            3                3              11               19
                    4. Food negativity
                       M                       ⫺16          ⫺18           ⫺10              ⫺24             ⫺32              ⫺15
                       F                        33            1             8                8              10               18
                    5. Eating disorder
                       M                       ⫺16          ⫺22              6a            ⫺10             ⫺28              ⫺17
                       F                        24            4               0              9              17               12
                    6. Natural/vegetarian
                       M                       ⫺12           ⫺3             27a             12                0             ⫺16
                       F                        ⫺2          ⫺19               9              8               16               4
                  Mean of Factors 1–5
                    M                          ⫺28          ⫺24           ⫺16              ⫺26             ⫺28              ⫺26
                    F                           18           13             0               14              24               27
                    M                            24.0         24.3          23.5            23.4             23.1              23.7
                    F                            22.0         22.2          21.8            21.6             21.3              22.2

                  Note. Scores on each factor are multiplied by 100. Positive scores indicate greater concern/worry about food
                  and eating. ASU ⫽ Arizona State University; PSU ⫽ Pennsylvania State University; UTEX ⫽ University of
                  Texas; UCSB ⫽ University of California, Santa Barbara; UPENN ⫽ University of Pennsylvania; UWIS ⫽
                  University of Wisconsin; M ⫽ male; F ⫽ female; BMI ⫽ body mass index (weight kg/height m2).
                    Most anomalous UTEX findings.

   Factor 5: Eating disorders. This factor groups five items that            The principal predictor on this factor is gender, F(1,
ask specifically about disordered eating behaviors such as the            2160) ⫽ 31.88, p ⬍ .001, with women showing higher (more
frequency of purging and binging and obsessions about eating and          disordered) scores. Most strikingly, the incidence of embarrass-
exercising. The sample shows substantial presence of strong con-          ment about buying a chocolate bar in the store was higher in
cern about food: Overall, 20% of the sample claimed to obsess             women (14% for women, 4% for men). Incidences of binging,
about exercise and 21% to obsess about eating; 89% had never              purging, and dieting were higher among women; 15% of women
purged, and 67% had never binged.                                         admitted to having purged on at least one occasion, which con-

                  Table 4
                  One-Way Analyses of Variance or Correlations Between Factors or Body Mass Index (BMI) and
                  Demographic Variables

                           Item                 Gender          School        Religion             Race           Class (Pearson r)

                    1. Weight concern           797.75**         2.15             4.77**          1.67                 .02
                    2. Health orientation       171.91**        15.52**           5.45**         17.96**               .12**
                    3. Diet–health link          53.63**         4.00**           2.65            4.19**               .02
                    4. Food negativity           51.24**         0.84             2.97*           3.98**              ⫺.01
                    5. Eating disorder           31.88**         0.34             2.11            0.94                 .03
                    6. Natural/vegetarian         1.47           4.71**           7.64**          2.76                 .01
                  Factor average                328.43**         1.78             2.89*           5.76**               .05
                  BMI                           131.14**         3.73*            4.03**         12.35**              ⫺.06

                  Note. n: gender, school ⫽ 2,162; BMI ⫽ 2,120; race ⫽ 2,130; religion ⫽ 2,103; class ⫽ 2,087.
                  * p ⬍ .01. ** p ⬍ .001.
FOOD AND LIFE, PLEASURE AND WORRY                                                       139

trasts with the 4% of men who had purged on at least one occasion.       least some of this difference could result from these variables as
Whereas 28% of females classified themselves as obsessed with            opposed to region. Using the University of Wisconsin data as
their weight, only 11% of men did. The highest factor score on           representative of the rest of the sample, we recalculated the factor
eating disorders is Arizona State University women (.24), and the        scores using only respondents who were White and at least middle
lowest is University of Pennsylvania men (⫺.28). Gender is the           class. This substantial narrowing of the sample, along the two most
only significant effect revealed on this factor (Table 4).               promising demographic characteristics, reduced the University of
   Factor 6: Natural/vegetarian. This factor contains a number           Texas anomaly by about 50%; that is, on health concerns, Univer-
of items reflecting preference for natural foods, moral and other        sity of Texas women move from negative to about neutral, and on
implications of natural food preferences, and vegetarian status. It is   natural/vegetarian, University of Texas men move close to neutral,
the only factor that does not show a significant gender effect, even     but still on the “female,” pronatural side. Examination of the
though it includes a vegetarian item that confirms the higher            scores of the University of Texas sample on the individual items
incidence of vegetarianism in women (including rejection of red          that make up these factors reveals that the anomalies appear rather
meat: 34% of women vs. 10% of men). Overall, and without major           uniformly, across the relevant items. It seems likely that there is a
gender differences, 76% thought natural foods are healthier, 34%         genuine regional difference here.
thought they taste better, 19% agreed that they “would rather date
someone who eats lots of fruits and veggies rather than lots of
meats,” and 4% agreed that “people who eat lots of candy aren’t as       Body Mass Index (BMI)
nice as people who eat lots of fruits and vegetables.”
                                                                            The standard measure of “heaviness,” BMI (weight in kilograms
   School and religion are the only variables that show significant
                                                                         divided by height in meters squared) is known to vary by gender,
effects (Table 4), and these are very modest compared with the
                                                                         and not surprisingly, it does in this sample (see Tables 3 and 4).
gender effects described for the other factors. University of Texas
                                                                         The lowest mean BMI was in University of Pennsylvania women
men, very surprisingly, are highest on the natural/vegetarian factor,
                                                                         (21.3) and the highest in Pennsylvania State men (24.3). There is
as are Hindus (and to a lesser extent, South Asians). It is no
                                                                         a modest school effect, F(5, 2113) ⫽ 3.73, p ⬍ .01, with the
accident that Hindus are highly represented in the University of
                                                                         University of Pennsylvania lowest and University of Wisconsin
Texas sample. University of Texas men scored higher than men at
                                                                         highest. There is a more substantial religion effect, F(6,
other schools across the board on the items loading on
                                                                         2056) ⫽ 4.03, p ⬍ .001, with Hindus lowest, a yet more substantial
                                                                         race effect, F(6, 2081) ⫽ 12.35, p ⬍ .001, with South Asians
   Overall negative/ambivalent reaction to food: Combined factor
                                                                         lowest and African Americans highest. Surprisingly, given the
score. We created a mean of the six factor scores for each
                                                                         indications in the literature that fatness decreases as one moves to
participant, as a general measure of negative–positive attitudes to
                                                                         higher classes, the correlation between self-reported social class
food (Tables 3 and 4). For each of the component factor scores, a
                                                                         and BMI was only ⫺.09 ( p ⬍ .01), for women and ⫺.05 (ns) for
positive value indicates food concern and worries and a greater
food– health and natural orientation, and a negative score indicates
a more food–weight positive attitude, with a greater focus on the
pleasure of eating. As would be expected from the component                                          Discussion
results, by far the biggest effect is for gender, F(1, 2160) ⫽ 328.43,
p ⬍ .001, but with much smaller but significant effects for race,           Our findings confirm and refine many prior indications that
religion and school (Table 4). The gender effect is large (.17 z units   American women are very concerned about diet and their body
for women, ⫺.25 for men, for a total difference of .42 z units). For     appearance (e.g. Rodin, 1992; Rodin et al., 1985; Rozin & Fallon,
school, the maximum difference is between the University of              1988; Schwartz, 1986). Our findings also extend this, in keeping
Texas (⫺.06) and Pennsylvania State University (.07), but the            with a much smaller literature, to great concern about diet and
latter results in large part from the fact that the proportion of men    health over and above issues of calories and weight (Rozin et al.,
is lowest at Pennsylvania State. For religion (not confounded by         1999). As has been noted (Rozin, 1998; Rozin et al., 1999), the
gender), the maximum spread is ⫺.07 for Buddhists and .06 for            greater concern about health does not follow directly from any-
Jews. Men from all six schools had negative factor scores, and           thing we know about women’s weight concerns. The longer life
women from five had positive scores, with the University of Texas        expectancy and lower rate of cardiovascular disease in women as
at zero. The extreme scores were .27 for University of Wisconsin         compared with men in developed countries indicate that a rela-
women and ⫺.28 for Arizona State University men (Table 3).               tively greater concern about health in men would be warranted. As
Notably, the California women were not the most extreme female           it happens, there is direct overlap between reducing calories and
group.                                                                   eating a healthy diet, given the link between body weight and
                                                                         mortality. Furthermore, the most calorically dense foods, fats, are
Anomalous Results in the University of Texas Sample                      also most implicated in heart disease independent of their caloric
                                                                         contribution. However, at least three of the items loading on the
   There were only two substantial violations of a general gender        diet– health concern factor (NUTTASTE, LONGTERM, and
pattern in the results. One concerns the very low (male range)           BREAD; see Table 2) do not bear directly on weight control. In
factor score for University of Texas women on health orientation.        addition to the confound between healthy and weight-reducing
The other is the very high score for Texas men on the natural/           foods, there may be a link between the two motivations in the
vegetarian factor. Because the University of Texas sample is most        minds of some women. Adopting a healthy diet may be more
different from the others in racial composition and social class, at     acceptable in some circles than weight reduction, especially when
140                                                   ROZIN, BAUER, AND CATANESE

a woman’s weight does not seem to require dieting. Thus, a               BMI for the California students, both the men and women, was the
woman might disguise a weight-loss diet as a health diet.                second lowest of the six schools, with the University of Pennsyl-
   Our findings help to define the nature of concern about food and      vania lowest for both genders. Because the University of Pennsyl-
diet among American college students, indicating that gender             vania is a private school, it differs from the others in being
differences are very substantial on all factors except the food          somewhat more upper middle and upper class and in drawing
negativity (importance of food in a positive context and the             students from a wider range of locations. Among the five state
positive–negative framing of food). It seems that the main male–         schools, in accordance with the data we have cited, the California
female difference has to do not with the positive potential of food      sample is somewhat thinner.
as a source of pleasure (given very similar scores on the food              Other than the BMI results, our data show no trace of a greater
importance positive–negative factor) but the degree of negative          weight or health– diet concern among California undergraduates.
feelings that conflict with the positive feelings. The male–female       The University of California at Santa Barbara would seem to be a
difference extends across behaviors, attitudes, and modes of             reasonable choice for coastal California populations. Our pilot data
thinking.                                                                showing a difference on a much smaller sample may reflect a
   The results provide, after the fact, a justification for the common   substantial difference between California undergraduates in gen-
practice of generalizing from a student sample at one university to      eral and those Californians who come East for their education to a
all American students. Previous data, which compared a range of          selective private university. It is possible that the West Coast
American adults with American college students (Rozin et al.,            diet– health stereotype is incorrect, perhaps promoted by a very
1999; Rozin & Fallon, 1988), have provided some justification for        small but very visible segment of the West Coast population that
a generalization from a particular student sample to Americans           is devoted to exercise, diet, and health foods.
more generally. However, there are severe limits to generalization          In contrast to the minimal regional differences within the United
from American college students to people in general (Rozin et al.,       States, the contrast of the United States with France is sharp and
1999). Furthermore, though regional differences in the United            highly significant for all of the types of measures except the effect
States are rather small, among college students, regional general-       of diet on health. The French are less likely to diet or make food
ization can only be countenanced with some equalization of or            choices dominated by concerns about health; find the pleasure of
compensation for racial and socioeconomic differences.                   eating relatively uncontaminated by worries and guilt; and tend to
   In general, the factor structure that we extracted from our           think of food as a sensory and social experience rather than as a
questionnaire is very similar to the only other parallel structure,      source of nutrients, toxins, and calories (Rozin et al., 1999). The
from the Rozin et al. (1999) study of food in life in four countries.    French–American difference appears for both men and women; as
The first four factors are about the same, but the eating disorder       with Americans, it is the French women who are relatively more
and natural/vegetarian factors are not distinct in the four-country      concerned about weight, diet, and health than are the men (Rozin
sample. Rather, there is a factor suggesting culinary versus             et al, 1999). We do not fully understand the origin of the French–
nutrition– health thinking about food.                                   American differences in relationships to food. Possible accounts
   The present study was motivated, in part, by our impression and       include the valuation of moderation in France versus excess in the
some pilot data suggesting much greater concern about diet– health       United States and religious differences, with Catholicism promi-
issues in Californians than in people in other geographical areas of     nent in France and Protestantism in the United States (Rozin, 1998;
the United States. There is some modest evidence for healthier           Rozin et al., 1999; Stearns, 1997). Whatever the origins of the
habits among Californians. Female California high school students        difference, the environment established by French culture seems to
have a relative mean weight 96.8% of the entire national standard        encourage less food consumption (mediated at least in part by
(Mellin, Irwin, & Scully, 1992). This slight support for a Califor-      smaller portion size; Rozin et al., in press), a more varied diet
nia stereotype is weakly confirmed by data we obtained from the          (Drewnowski et al., 1996), perhaps more time spent eating (Rozin
marketing department at McDonald’s (personal communication).             et al., in press), and perhaps more exercise integrated with the daily
We determined the number of McDonald’s outlets in each of the            routine.
five states covered by our study and divided this into the popula-          The findings we report here have implications for the under-
tion for each state, yielding a people per McDonald’s measure. We        standing of eating disorders. The small minority of the female
proposed that a greater health orientation in California might lead      college population that is diagnosed with eating disorders might be
to a higher ratio in California because McDonald’s might be less         considered the top of a large pyramid of degrees of concern about
popular there. (Note that the issue here is not whether eating at        weight and diet. The normative female concern seems to involve
McDonald’s is good for health, but rather that people perceive that      issues of both intake and food choice and to extend across behav-
fast food is not as healthy as other forms of food.) The ratios we       iors, attitudes, and modes of thought.
obtained were as follows, in order of increasing people per Mc-             We believe it is profitable, from the point of view of under-
Donald’s: Wisconsin, 23,290; Texas, 23,405; Arizona, 23,433;             standing the obsessions with food of many American women, to
Pennsylvania, 24,994; and California, 27,600. The density is low-        extend our understanding of relationships to food beyond the
est, by a modest margin, in California. A survey on food intake          narrow domains of dieting and weight concern. We have made a
covering various regions of the United States in the 1989 –1991          beginning in creating the broader canvas in our prior cross-cultural
period showed that people from the West Coast consumed 4.8               work (Rozin et al., 1999) and in the current study. Our emphasis
servings of meat per day compared with 5.3 in the Northeast              on default thinking (see also analysis of free associations to food in
and 5.2 in both the South and Midwest, as well as increased              Rozin, Kurzer, & Cohen, 2002) introduces a dimension of poten-
consumption of fruits and vegetables on the West Coast (Cleve-           tial interest. However, there is much work to be done in expanding
land, Cook, Kreb-Smith, & Friday, 1997). In the present study, the       our vision of the many ways in which food functions and in
FOOD AND LIFE, PLEASURE AND WORRY                                                                 141

refining the measures we have developed. Also, we have much to                Rozin, P. (1998). Food is fundamental, fun, frightening, and far-reaching.
learn about the development of the American female pattern of                   Social Research, 66, 9 –30.
relations to food. Most of the male–female difference seems to                Rozin, P., Ashmore, M. B., & Markwith, M. (1996). Lay American
emerge at puberty, so this would seem to be a natural transition for            conceptions of nutrition: Dose insensitivity, categorical thinking, conta-
                                                                                gion, and the monotonic mind. Health Psychology, 15, 438 – 447.
scholarly attention.
                                                                              Rozin, P., & Fallon, A. E. (1988). Body image, attitudes to weight, and
                                                                                misperceptions of figure preferences of the opposite sex: A comparison
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